Bug of the Week

Honey bees do different jobs as they get older. The young bees take care of the brood, and the older bees go out and forage or gather food.

In the fall, the foraging bees don't look too bad.

honey-bee-sunflowerhoney-bee-pollen-basket-251They are still fuzzy and their wings are in good shape.

Now contrast that to some honey bees out foraging this week.

Can you see the dark patch on the back of the thorax? This bee has lost some of her hair.

The quality of this photo isn't the best, but can you see how ragged the edges of this honey bee's wings are?

These honey bees have been in the nest all winter, probably working hard to keep it warm. They are worn out.

Have you ever spotted a honey bee that was worse for wear?

It was a bit cold, cloudy and rainy over the weekend, so I wasn't expecting to find any insects. But there it was.

A praying mantis, bold as can be.

Isn't it interesting how the pink shades on its thorax match the pink flower buds of the fairy duster plant it's resting on?

The cold weather was probably making it sluggish, because it did not move when I ran to get my camera or the whole time I was taking photographs.

Perhaps it is wishing for warmer days.

Even after all these years of recording insects in our yard, it is still possible to discover a few new ones.

Take last week. I found this tiny caterpillar feeding on a Thurber's cotton leaf.

(I'm afraid the photograph is a bit blurry because it was a windy day.)

With a little research I found out it is the larva of the cotton leaf perforator moth, Bucculatrix thurberiella. The youngest caterpillars mine the leaves on the inside, creating tiny tunnels. When they get larger, they stay on the surface chewing out window panes of leaf tissue.

You can see photographs of the adult moth at Discover Life.

Am I worried about this caterpillar feeding on my plant?

Well, no. First of all the caterpillar is very small, and the plant is very big. Secondly, it is winter and the cotton plant is losing its leaves anyway. What difference does it make if a caterpillar takes a few bites before the leaf falls off?

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This is what the Thurber's cotton plant looked like earlier in the year:

You can see more at this related post about Thurber's cotton.